Saturday, November 18, 2017

Hamlet and EVEN MORE Pop Culture

There has been a couple post already talking about Hamlet and pop culture, but due to Shakespear's influence, there are still tons more that we haven't talked about. Shakespear is so widespread that there are even tons of references to Shakespeare and his words in rap lyrics. Here are a few that I found.

1) Hamlet

"To be or not to be" may be the most famous line ever, so obviously there would be some use of this line in rap. Here are a few.

"To be or not to be
 That's the question,
 you feel me?"
- Puff Dady

"To be or not to be?
Last words from
- Wycleaf Jean

"To be or not to be
I don't know my decision"
- Lil Wayne

2) Macbeth

Another one of Shakespeare's most famous plays, so there is sure to be plenty of references.

"Something wicked,
This way comes"
- 2Pac

3) Shakespeare himself

I'm a poet to some,
a regular modern day
- Eminem

"Now I'm blessed
with the finesse
to express
like Shakespear"
- Nas

"The Shakespear of 16s,
I'm dipping my ink pen"
- Danny Brown

In this last one from Danny Brown, he is comparing himself to Shakespeare, but he says he writes 16 bars instead oh Shakespeare's 14 line sonnets.

Hamlet in MORE Pop Culture

We've talked about how influential this play is, and due to its influence, Hamlet has been featured in quite a bit of pop culture. I found some really cool references, which I discuss below:

1) Princess Diaries 2: The Royal Engagement (when I saw this, I was pretty excited)

Lily, Mia's best friend, refers to Mia's maids as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern because they were very nosey and always tried to intrude in Mia's affairs.
Image result for mia thermopolis maids

2) Clueless (also was excited about this)

3) Beyonce's "Freakum Dress" (excited pt. 3)

Right in the beginning of the song before she starts to sing, Beyonce whispers "to be or not to be...not!" Listen for yourself!

The Globe

I'm sure by now everyone knows that Shakespear performed most of his plays at the Globe Theatre, but most people probably don't know of the Globe's rich history. The original theater was built in 1599 using timber from an earlier theater that was own by one of the six main Globe shareholder's father. Shakespear was also one of these original shareholders. Originally he owned 1/8 of the Globe, but over the years his share diminished to only 7%. On June 29th of 1613, the Globe burned down during a production of Henry VIII. A cannonball used for special effects during the play misfired and hit a wooden bean, setting the entire theater on fire. The theater was not rebuilt until the following year. In 1642, along with many other theaters in the London area, the theater was closed by the Puritans. It wasn't dismantled, however, until 1644-1652. It wasn't until 1997 when a reimagined version of the theater was made named "Shakespear's Globe." This construction was based on the models and dimensions from both the 1599 and 1613 theaters. Then in February of 2016, a pop-up version of the theater was made in New Zealand. It remained in New Zealand for around three months hosting various productions and plays. Then in 2017, this pop-up replica was constructed for another three months in another New Zealand location for a similar performance. Here you can find pictures of the modern theaters in London and New Zealand.

Image result for globe theater
Image result for globe theater new zealand

Closing Thoughts on Hamlet (comment below!)

Hey guys. As we close up our discussions on Hamlet, I wanted to create a discussion on the play itself and what we thought about it. Personally, I really liked it. I enjoyed the fact that the play got pretty introspective at times. Hamlet, on several occasions, breaks down the emotions he feels and comes up with his own philosophical theories that explore, for example, the impact of thought on psyche and the emotional impacts of suicide. Aside from his perceptiveness, I liked how Hamlet was his own type of protagonist. Clearly, as he's the eponymous character, he's supposed to be the hero. However, Hamlet's level of bravery and determination fluctuates greatly throughout the play. Sometimes, he's super motivated and driven by rage; whereas, at other times, he'll come up with any excuse in the book to avoid avenging his father. With this element of his character, Hamlet becomes more real as his qualms regarding his duty are understandable for the audience. Overall, I liked the play Hamlet and also the character Hamlet as well. What do you guys think? Do you like the play or the character or both? Also, I'm interested to hear y'all's opinions regarding the ending in which basically everyone just dies. I'm still not sure how I feel about it exactly.

Artistic Interpretations of Hamlet

As one of Shakespeare's most renowned plays, Hamlet has been artistically represented many times. I found some cool representations (below) that added to my perspective of the events that went down in the play.

1) Hamlet and Ophelia by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

This scene depicts the moment in which Ophelia returns Hamlet's gifts. This painting is really cool because its background is more important than Hamlet and Ophelia themselves. If you look closely, the chair on which Hamlet rests his arm houses an engraving of the Tree of Knowledge guarded by two angels with swords. Around the tree lies a serpent that wear a crown which is reminiscenet of the ghost's lines in the play: "But know, thou noble youth, / The serpent that did sting thy father's life / Now wears his crown." Also on the seat is a carving of the Old Testament story of Uzzah. Uzzah was bringing the Ark of the Covenant to King David, and when the oxen carrying the Ark shifted, he held out his arms to steady it. The second he reached out his arms to steady the Ark, God struck him dead. Basically, he was the victim of his good intentions, just like Ophelia. Ophelia left Hamlet because of her father's wishes; she had no malicious intents. The parallel between Uzzah and Ophelia is demonstrated through the similar, flailing position of their arms. 

2) The Closet Scene from "Hamlet" by Richard Dadd

As its title reveals, this is from the famous "closet scene." Originally, this painting also incorporated Dadd's version of the apparition; however, it was removed at some point. It's interesting to pay close attention to the facial expressions of both Hamlet and Gertrude. After spotting the ghost, Hamlet is wide-eyed and shocked. In response to his reaction, Gertrude is fearful of her son and shows a almost a look of disappointment towards him.

Poison, a Coward's Weapon

Poison is a recurring theme in many of Shakespeare's plays (e.g. Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, King John, Antony and Cleopatra, Richard III, Hamlet). In the Elizabethan era, poison was seen as a coward's way to kill as chivalry was very important. Also, people believed in witchcraft and thought that poisons and potions were supernatural powers. In the 1600s, men fought for their honor in duels, and it was thought to be better to die than to be a coward. Thus, poison was considered a weapon of a man with no honor and respect for himself. One can argue that Hamlet is a coward because of his indecisiveness about his revenge, but we can all agree that Claudius is the coward of cowards. He asks other people to kill Hamlet, and he plans with Laertes to use poison during the fencing duel. However, as is throughout the play, what goes around comes around, and Claudius drinks drops of poison as well.

One thing that I was thinking about was the question of Gertrude's death. Did she know that the drink had poison in it? Why did she drink it? Maybe she intentionally saved her son after feeling guilt in the night that Hamlet talked with her at her room? I don't know.

This is an interesting article about poison used in Shakespeare's plays:

Hamlet Sand Sculpture

I found this really cool sand sculpture of hamlet that I would like to share: